Thursday, August 31, 2017

Brazilian judge blocks decree to open Amazon reserve to mining

A Brazilian judge on Wednesday blocked a presidential decree that opened an Amazon nature reserve to mining.

The decision by Judge Ronaldo Spanholo, of the Federal District, notes any move to strip the Copper National Reserve (Renca) in northern Brazil of protected status requires congressional approval and changes to the law, not merely a presidential decree.

Last week, Brazil's President Michel Temer signed a decree that paves the way for mining at Renca, a Denmark-sized territory rich in minerals like gold, zinc, phosphate and manganese.

The decree, which was also signed by his minister of Mining and Energy, canceled the park's status as a national reserve, but called for "the application of specific legislation regarding the protection ... of native vegetation, nature (and) indigenous border lands and zones."

The park includes nine different protected zones, two of which are indigenous lands where mining is completely banned, but at least four other zones appear to be accessible to regulated mining activity.

Environmental activists said mining at the park could exacerbate existing conflicts between mining companies and indigenous groups.

Renca was created in 1984 to prevent mining activity from excessively encroaching on wildlife and indigenous communities.

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